Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 13th column, he looks at the history of the name Trey.
Just how mad will March be for Nebraskans? One Trey and his team find out today.
March 13 is Selection Sunday, when teams for 2022’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament are chosen. Creighton University’s basketball team, which has a Trey in its starting lineup, has a good chance to be chosen.
On March 5, Creighton’s Trey Alexander, along with teammates Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma, was named to the Big East’s all-freshman team.
(The Huskers of Nebraska also have a Trey, Trey McGowens, but the team’s win-loss record this year wouldn’t let them even sniff the tournament.)
Since the 14th century, “trey,” (from Old French “treis,” or “three”) has been the English word for a playing card or domino with three pips or spots. By 1887, it was slang for any group of three things.
Sometime in the 20th century, Trey became a nickname for a man or boy with the same name as his father and grandfather and suffix “III”. Though so far the earliest example I’ve found of this is in Texas in 1942, it probably started a couple of decades earlier. Back then, the nickname had a preppy upper-crust image.
In Social Security’s baby name data, including names given to five or more boys born in a single year, Trey first appears in 1948. Since back then a Social Security number came along with one’s first job, it’s possible some Treys on the list in the 1940s and 1950s weren’t born with the name.